The incident aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253 is now being called an attempted act of terrorism according to reports on Fox News. An airline passenger claiming to have ties to Al Qaeda was subdued after he tried to ignite a powdery substance just before landing in Detroit, sources told FOX News. Earlier reports were that a man attempted to set off fireworks aboard the jet.
A senior White House official called it an attempted act of terrorism.
The passenger, one of 278 passengers flying from Amsterdam to Detroit, is now in custody, according to a statement from the Transportation Security Administration.
The suspect, described by law enforcement officials as a Nigerian man in his early 20s, claimed extremist ties during questioning, sources said.
According to one official. the suspect smuggled a powder aboard the plane in a container taped to his leg. Covering himself with a blanket to hide his actions, he used a syringe to inject a liquid into the powder, and a fire resulted from the combustible mix, according to the official, who did not identify the materials.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, identified the suspect as 23-year-old Abdul Mudallad of Nigeria, and King said Mudallad “definitely has connections” to Al Qaeda.
King said Mudallad was not on any “no-fly list,” but one source familiar with the investigation said the suspect did come up in another federal database after authorities checked his name on Friday.
“This could have been catastrophic,” said King, speaking to “FOX Report” Friday night. “We were lucky on this one.”
King said there is no evidence that this was part of a larger plot.
FBI and DHS officials would not discuss the suspect's possible motives. However, the FBI has already issued an alert about the case to other law enforcement agencies, one source said.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Obama have been briefed on the situation, according to spokespeople for both.
“Passengers may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights,” DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban said in a statement. “As always we encourage the traveling public to be observant and aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior or activity to law enforcement officials.”
After being notified of the incident by a military aide, President Obama, vacationing in Hawaii with his family, convened a conference call with his counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, and other national security officials, a White House spokesman said.
“[He] instructed that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. “The President is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates.”
Northwest Flight 253 was close to touching down at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport when it declared an emergency on board, an airline official said.
From The Washington Post – Nigerian Arrested In Failed Plane Attack Claims Links to al-Qaeda
A Nigerian man, claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, allegedly tried to set off an incendiary device aboard a transatlantic airplane Friday as it descended toward Detroit’s airport in what the White House called an attempted act of terrorism.
The man was quickly subdued, according to an airline spokeswoman, and Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam landed safely around noon Friday, with several of the 278 passengers receiving minor injuries in the incident. The suspect was being treated at a hospital for burns he suffered while igniting the device, the Transportation Security Administration said.
The FBI is investigating the incident. President Obama, celebrating Christmas in Hawaii, was informed about it, a spokesman said, and he asked his aides to ensure that all measures are in place to provide security for air travel.
Officials said they are not prepared to raise the terrorism alert level, currently at orange — or the second-highest of five levels — for domestic and international air travel. However, the Department of Homeland Security said late Friday that passengers “may notice additional screening measures, put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights.”
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Obama Monitoring Flight 253 Incident
As President Barack Obama vacations in Hawaii, officials say he’s keeping up to date on what’s described as a terror attempt on board a Northwest Airlines plane that was about to land in Detroit.
A Nigerian man was detained on the flight from Amsterdam Friday after he attempted to detonate an explosive device during landing.
The White House says Obama was notified about the incident and discussed it with security officials.
The White House is coordinating briefings for the president through the Homeland Security Department, the Transportation Security Administration and the FBI.
The suspect, identified by Rep Peter King, (R-N.Y.) as Abdul Mudallad, a 23-year-old Nigerian man known in counter-terror circles, told investigators he was acting on behalf of Al Qaeda.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton released a statement following the incident Friday.
“The President was notified of the incident this morning between 9:00 and 9:30 Hawaii time by the President’s military aide. The President subsequently convened a secure conference call with John Brennan, his Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Adviser, and Denis McDonough, NSS Chief of Staff.
“He asked to arrange a subsequent secure call and in that call instructed that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel. The President is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates. There is currently no change to his schedule.”
Category: Incident Reports